Scheppers flashing 'electric' stuff since return

Scheppers flashing 'electric' stuff since return

HOUSTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister had rave reviews for reliever Tanner Scheppers' work on Sunday against the Angels.

"Tanner Scheppers was electric," Banister said. "His fastball showed up with great movement and his secondary stuff he was able to land well."

Scheppers retired three straight hitters, including one by strikeout, in the Rangers' 3-2 loss to the Angels. He has pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings over three outings since being activated off the disabled list after missing the first five months of the season while recovering from left knee surgery. He also had eight appearances in the Minors, allowing just one run, before being activated.

"It just feels good to get back out there," Scheppers said. "There is only so much you can do in the Minors. As a reliever, the more you get out there, the more comfortable you get."

Scheppers has been the Rangers' best alternative for Tony Barnette, their valuable utility reliever who is sidelined with a strained oblique muscle in his left side. Barnette, who is 6-3 with a 2.15 ERA in 51 games, has not pitched since Sept. 4 but threw on flat ground Monday before the Rangers' opening game with the Astros.

"It's a strain … pretty minor," Barnette said. "We're taking care of it, make sure I get back to full health and get back for the stretch run. We're in good position and we have extra bodies so it's nice to be able to go the conservative route."

The Rangers' extra bodies in the bullpen include Derek Holland, who is being used as a reliever this week. They have six starters plus an off-day on Thursday, so moving Holland to the bullpen allows Yu Darvish to start Wednesday against the Astros on his regular four days' rest.

"Holland is not in the bullpen to stay," Banister said.

The Rangers are also planning on Cole Hamels pitching Friday against the Athletics and Colby Lewis on Saturday. That leaves Sunday as the earliest Holland would get back into the rotation, although that would be Martin Perez's day to pitch.

"I just have to go out there and be ready to go when my name is called," Holland said. "There is nothing I can do. I haven't pitched that well. I need to step it up and do my part."

Rangers beat 

• The Rangers have taken reliever R.J. Alvarez off the 40-man roster and outrighted him to the Minor Leagues. He was claimed from the Cubs on Saturday.

Adrian Beltre had two home runs in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Angels as did opposing shortstop Andrelton Simmons. It was the lowest scoring game in Major League history in which two players hit multiple home runs.

• Beltre also had a stolen base on Sunday. Since 2002, the only other player 37 years or older who had at least two home runs and one stolen base in a game was Craig Biggio.

• Class A High Desert beat Lancaster, 15-7, to even their California League semifinal playoff series at one game apiece. The best-of-five series continues on Monday night.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.